Domestic violence programs worried about federal funding

West Bay

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Programs relying on federal funding are concerned for what the future holds, regarding the reopening of the government.

Before President Donald Trump announced a deal to reopen the government for three weeks, some federal workers had missed up to two paychecks. The shutdown, which lasted 35 days, was the longest in U.S. history.

The future is still unclear for what will happen after Feb. 15 should a spending deal not be reached by or before then.

That’s why leaders with Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence are concerned for those relying on its services. 

“Funds will be available to domestic violence programs for the month of February. However, that is short term, and so it gives us breathing room. It’s certainly not the long term solution,” Tonya Harris, coalition’s executive director said. 

Harris said the uncertainty of funding is a safety issue.

“Think about the victim who is seeking help through counseling, or the victim who is seeking help for shelters. And so what that could look like if the shutdown continues is that victim and possibly the children also will no longer have a home,” Harris said.

Before the announcement about a temporary end to the shutdown, Harris told Eyewitness News conversations were being held on the national and local levels regarding services domestic violence shelters provide, and what could happen if funding ran out.

“If the staff is being furloughed, that, of course, means that services can not be provided. And if services cannot be provided, it goes back to the victim and families,” Harris said.

A difference between having a home, or legal support, according to Harris.

“It brings an extreme level of fear and anxiety to an already existing fear and anxiety that a victim has during domestic violence matters,” Harris said.

In Rhode Island, there are six domestic violence shelters. Last year, the coalition helped to serve just under 10,000 victims of domestic violence.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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